Are Home Phones Obsolete?

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Do you still need a phone landline?

It’s no secret that the traditional home phone is in decline. With Canadians increasingly opting for cell phone-only households, the prospect of using a landline telephone is looking more antiquated with each passing year. That being said, while the decline of landline telephone use shows no signs of slowing down, there are still legitimate benefits to keeping a home phone if it’s VoIP (voice-over IP) based.

When it comes to traditional telephones in Canada, we’re really talking about two different technologies: landlines and voice-over IP (VoIP). Landline telephones may be reliable, but the technology has become obsolete and too expensive. By contrast, VoIP-based phones offer better value to both households and small businesses that want to maintain a fixed phone system. In addition to providing significant cost savings, VoIP calling offers unlimited calling minutes and a variety of extra features that you just can’t get with landlines, such as mobile phone integration and voicemail to email.

According to the CRTC’s 2018 Communications Monitoring Report, 67% of Canadian households still had a landline subscription as of 2016. That figure may seem surprisingly high, but it represents a year-over-year decline of 7.1%. With that in mind, it’s no wonder the country’s biggest telecom companies have been getting away from landlines in favour of VoIP calling. Just last year, Ottawa cut 80,000 of the city’s landlines at the same time Shared Services Canada signed a $176-million, seven-year deal with Telus Corp. to provide Voice-over Internet Protocol, instant messaging, and desktop videoconferencing services. The Financial Post notes that Ottawa and other organizations across Canada have been making the switch to VoIP in an effort to “modernize communications infrastructure for the digital era [and] improve reliability” while ditching the maintenance costs of older systems.

So if VoIP-based home phone systems are both cheaper and more feature-rich than landlines, why then are Canadians still overwhelmingly ditching fixed handsets in favor of becoming mobile-only households? Shifting generational lifestyles have certainly played a major role, as renters and young adults are much more likely to own just cell phones thanks to their mobility and comfort with new technologies. However, Canada’s big telecom companies also shoulder much of the blame. As landline usership has dropped, Rogers and Bell have continued to bundle landline services with more expensive cable and internet packages.

On the other end of the spectrum, big VoIP providers such as Comwave and Primus have given the technology a bad reputation due to their expensive, unreliable service and poor customer service. Gonevoip first shared the following data from the CRTC’s Communications Monitoring Report in the 2017 post “The Metamorphosis of Landlines”, but it illustrates how poorly the country’s top telecom companies are viewed by Canadians:

Rank Provider # Of Complaints %
1 Bell Canada 1258 31.8%
2 Rogers Communication 535 13.5%
3 Telus Communications 278 7%
4 Videotron 165 4.2%
5 Xplorenet Internet Services 113 2.9%
6 Comwave 88 2.2%
7 Bell Aliant 73 1.8%
8 Shaw Communications 60 1.5%
9 Primus 49 1.2%
10 Vonage Canada 29 0.7%

As you can see in the chart, Bell, Rogers, and Telus received the overwhelming majority of complaints, which is hardly surprising given their market share in the Canadian telecom industry. However, both Comwave and Primus placed in the top 10 for complaints, which is significant given that both companies are two of the country’s biggest providers of VoIP phone services. This would suggest that Canadians are just as frustrated with landline services as they are with VoIP, but the data paints a much different picture.

The Home Phone has not said its last word yet!

As of 2017, there were approximately 15 million landline phones in Canada, with 40% of those using VoIP technology. That amounts to about 6 million VoIP lines and what’s fascinating is that VoIP users appear to be overwhelmingly pleased with the service they are getting. According to the same CRTC Communications Monitoring Report, only 0.2% of the complaints they received were for issues related to VoIP services.

With all that said, what are the benefits of actually having a home phone in 2018? It’s been established that VoIP-based phone lines offer legitimate advantages over landlines, especially when it comes to price. But what do those savings actually look like?

Bell and Rogers currently charge between $40-60 a month for their landline services, which may not seem like much but definitely stacks up over the course of a year. Compare that to Gonevoip’s breakdown of 2018’s best VoIP phone services in the Greater Toronto Area. Providers such as VoIP Much Phone Company, Yak Home Phone, and 1-VOIP Home Phone may not have the name recognition of the big telecom companies, but their low monthly fees and wealth of included features are hard to beat. See for yourself:

Service Provider Monthly Cost Key Features
VoIP Much Phone Company $9.45
  • Free Unlimited Canada/US Calling
  • Free E911
  • 30+ Included Features
  • No Setup & No Contracts
  • Chosen Best Home Phone of 2017
Yak Home Phone $5 first two months, $10 thereafter
  • No Contract
  • No Setup Fees
  • 12 Included Features
  • Unlimited Local Calling
1-VOIP Home Phone $11.21
  • No Contract
  • No Cancellation Fees
  • No Setup Fees
  • Unlimited Canada/US Calling
  • Cloud Storage
  • Smartphone App w/SMS Messaging
Phone Power Home Phone $7.40
  • No Contract
  • Free Adapter
  • Free Canada/US Calling
  • Free International Calling
  • Free Number Porting
VOIPO Home Phone $7.70
  • Unlimited Canada & US Calling
  • Free Keep Existing Number
  • Free Adapter
  • Over 40 Features Included
  • Smartphone App

Now let’s look at what Rogers, Bell, Comwave, and Primus are offering. Keep in mind that these providers routinely receive some of the worst customer reviews.

Service Provider Monthly Cost Key Features
Rogers (Wireless Home Phone) Starting at $20
  • Unlimited Canada-wide Calling
  • Enhanced Voicemail
  • Call Display
  • Call Forwarding
  • Call Waiting
  • Conference Calling
Bell (Home Phone Lite) $44.44
  • Unlimited Local Calling
Comwave (Basic Plan)
  • $9.95 ith 6 months free if you port your existing number on a 3 year contract.
  • $14.95 no contract
  • Unlimited Local Calls
  • Caller ID Block
  • My Account Web Access
  • Free Long Distance Between Comwave Customers
  • $9.95 on 2 year term, first 3 months free
  • $14.95 no contract
  • Unlimited Local Calling
  • Telemarketing GuardTM
  • 5¢/min to Canada and the U.S.
  • Unlimited Calling To Other Primus Digital Home Phone Customers

As you can see, big providers such as Bell and Rogers – and even popular providers in the VoIP phone business like Comwave and Primus – are overselling Canadians on their home phone packages. They’ve created a perception that home phones are an overpriced expense that we can all do without, but what many Canadians may not realize is that there are many VoIP-based plans out there that are inexpensive and loaded with features.

Of course, even for those who do wish to hang onto their home phones, there are some minor drawbacks to opting for a VoIP system over landline. While VoIP based lines are generally more feature-rich, technically advanced, and cheaper, they are still dependent on a stable internet connection in order to function properly. In an emergency situation, nothing beats the reliability of a traditional landline, which is why these systems are still popular with the elderly and those living in more remote rural communities. For the rest of Canadians, VoIP systems are increasingly the best choice available when it comes to home phones and the major telecom companies would do well to try and communicate the usefulness of the technology given the 15 million lines available across the country.

For the best Home Phone rates in your area, be sure to read Gonevoip’s Home Phone Providers page for the latest deals and reviews.

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